10 Ways to Live TV-Free

Life with less television is possible. Here's how to pull the plug.

Intro, Tips 1-2

It's been a long day and you're frazzled, so you place your fussy toddler in front of the TV to get an hour or two of peace. Sound familiar? You're not alone. Recent studies have shown that most children ages 2 and up typically watch more than 10 hours of TV a week, a far cry from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation of one hour a day for this age group.

So now in addition to your diaper bag, you may be carrying around some guilt. Don't -- there are a lot of things you can do to lessen your family's TV time. The key is to start simple and set a goal, like watching only two shows a day.

Here, some creative tips and time-fillers to make the transition easier.

TV-Free Tip #1: 1 Assess your tube time.

How much TV is your family really watching? "Keeping track of your child's screen time will give you a better idea of where you stand. This includes TV and videos -- all of it can really add up," says Frank Vespe, executive director of the TV-Turnoff Network, a nonprofit agency devoted to public awareness. Pick one day and keep a log. The results may surprise you.

TV-Free Tip #2: Devise a plan.

"Make an appointment to watch TV. Don't just view it randomly," says Donald Shifrin, MD, pediatrician, and chair of the AAP committee on communications. Sit down and map out which shows you truly want your kids to watch -- and stick to that schedule.

"This really sets the stage for developing good viewing habits later on," he says.

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